Expanded gambling will launch in Nebraska in late 2021 with full-scale casino gambling scheduled to launch in early 2022, according to one of the largest operators in the state.
Ho-Chunk, Inc., the incorporated version of the Ho-Chunk tribe, which operates three existing horse racing tracks in the state, announced that it has launched a separate division of the company to operate the new casino.
The Wisconsin-based tribe, which runs several casinos in its home state, created WarHorse Gaming, LLC to run casino-style gaming in the Cornhusker State, according to a report from a Nebraska NBC affiliate.
WarHorse Gaming, LLC will oversee operations at Horsemen’s Park in Omaha, Lincoln Racecourse in Lincoln and Atokad in South Sioux City. Warhorse management began the initial planning stages and told the local media its anticipated time frame for the rollout of casino gaming.
“This is an exciting time for Nebraskans,” said WarHorse Gaming Executive Director Brian Chamberlain in a statement. “Our team is working tirelessly to bring first-class gaming and entertainment to the state. Though there is still a great deal of work to be done, we’re excited for the chance to bring a new industry to the state, and with it, an entirely new source of tax revenue and career opportunities.”
The measures will bring poker to Nebraska for the first time in state history. Poker players were forced to travel to neighboring states to be legal, regulated live games. Iowa was a popular destination as there was a Caesars-owned property near the Nebraska-Iowa border in Council Bluffs, which was home to a World Series of Poker Circuit stop every year.
Last month, voters in Nebraska were one of five states that overwhelmingly supported expanded gaming initiatives in their state. With November’s results, Nebraskans decided that casino-style gambling could come to horse racing tracks, which were already legal.
There were three separate initiatives regarding casino gaming on the ballot. One would amend the state constitution to allow gambling and the other two dealt with how the tax revenue would be distributed.
Despite all three passing with a 64% majority on Election Day, it was a bumpy road to get there. After a pro-gambling group that was backed by the Ho-Chunk tribe got enough signatures to get the issue on the ballot, the Secretary of State refused to put it on the ballot, citing confusing language.
The issue was brought before the state’s Supreme Court, which voted 4-3 in favor of allowing the initiatives on the ballot in November, ultimately allowing the people of the state to bring poker rooms and other casino games to their home state.